#Nextchat: Micro-Internships—A Powerful Tool for Talent Acquisition





"While we were focused on just getting some help on a project, we quickly realized that the student was incredible ... We saw her work ethic and skills, and got an inside track on hiring her." —Adam Hecktman, Microsoft

One of the best ways to secure new talent—especially in a tight labor market—is to find these candidates before anyone else and build relationships with them over time. And smart employers know that bringing on student interns is one of the best ways to do this. For many organizations, internship programs are a critical component of their talent acquisition strategy, as they allow for a two-way trial period for both the candidate and the employer, thereby increasing retention and outcomes. The candidate gets to experience the job and the culture, and the employer can better assess the candidate’s skills, aptitude and likelihood for success in the role. 

Given the benefit of these mutual auditions, companies are increasingly seeking ways to provide them to a greater number of candidates, especially to those outside of the focus schools. However, they also want to ensure that they can provide a mutually beneficial experience without creating internal friction. The increasing acceptance of the gig economy has created this opportunity.

In his SHRM blog post, Micro-Internships – a Powerful Tool for Talent Acquisition, Jeffrey Moss, Parker Dewey founder and CEO, writes:

The reality is that gigs are becoming a powerful tool for HR, especially related to early-career professionals. In particular, acceptance by hiring managers that individuals outside of the four walls of a company can add value through project-based work has created a way for HR to:

  • Gain early access to candidates.
  • Enhance diversity and inclusion.
  • Drive retention.
  • Support brand development.

Student gigs that lead to full-time hires can also boost diversity efforts. Moss writes:

Of the millions of underemployed Career Launchers, the common thread is they lack the academic pedigree (i.e., school, major, GPA) or family network to even be considered by many companies. These are smart, hard-working, diverse individuals who have been filtered out because they don’t have the ’right’ keyword on their resume or have the wrong academic pedigree, neither of which is predictive of a good hire. … Specifically, since an individual gig requires little to no commitment, a company can more easily provide an opportunity to someone from a different background, GPA, major, etc. While we know these traits don’t prove skills or predict fit, companies still too frequently rely on them for top-of-funnel filtering at the early-career stage, as there is little to no other data upon which they can rely. And by seeing these individuals in action, companies can more effectively assess communication, problem solving, grit, and the other core skills that are vital to success.”

Another huge advantage of micro-internships and student gigs for employers is the exposure. “The low commitment of gigs provides an opportunity for companies to get in front of early-career professionals who might not otherwise consider their company, industry, or role,” Moss writes.


How are you incorporating freelancing and micro-internships into your talent acquisition strategies?

Please join @shrmnextchat on Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. ET for #Nextchat with special guest Jeffrey Moss (@Jeffrey_at_PD). We’ll chat about how student gigs are the most effective way to hire college students and recent grads while driving diversity and retention.


Q1. As an employer, or as HR, what are your greatest challenges and pain points when sourcing and hiring for entry-level professional positions?

Q2. What conversations is your organization having about freelancing in general? Are these conversations incorporating student or recent-graduate micro-internships and freelance opportunities into your talent acquisition strategy?

Q3. What are the advantages of student and recent-graduate freelance gigs and micro-internships for employers? Are there any disadvantages?

Q4. What types of projects are best-suited for student and recent-graduate freelance gigs and micro-internships? What types of projects are the student freelancers currently working on at your organization?

Q5. If you’re currently employing student freelancers and offering micro-internships, how do you structure orientation, and do you do any onboarding? Is it accelerated or different for traditional summer interns or new hires?

Q6. Why are student and recent-graduate freelance and micro-internship programs effective for boosting diversity and inclusion efforts?

Q7. What advice can you share with other employers for setting up a successful student and recent-graduate freelance and micro-internship program?

If you missed this #Nextchat, you can read all the tweets in the RECAP here


How to participate in an HR Twitter chat.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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